Sunday Dinner: Greek Feast

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After a long week and busy weekend, by the time Sunday dinner rolls around, I am generally longing for a comfort-filled meal. Thankfully, Food Network magazine is usually on hand and — even better — the latest issue features recipes for a Greek Feast, including Pastitsio and Mini Baklava

Full disclosure: I’m Italian-American and have never attempted to prepare any type of Greek cuisine before, although I thoroughly enjoy eating it. However, one of my very best friends in the world, who now lives in Crete, is a fabulous cook and has always inspired me with her stories of flavorful, hearty, home cooked Greek meals. So, I thought I’d give it a whirl and try to make her proud. [If you approve, Eleni, holla at your girl! :)]

While the Pastitsio is a time-consuming dish, it’s not a difficult one to pull together. (It can get a little hectic if you don’t plan properly because all of the elements — meat sauce mixture, pasta and bechamel sauce — need to be prepared simultaneously and assembled in a baking dish at the end). It is so absolutely delicious, though, I could hardly believe I not only cooked a Greek meal, but that I also successfully substituted ground turkey for ground beef and non-fat yogurt for milk in the bechamel sauce. 

Given that I was sticking to a Greek theme, I went ahead and made these Zucchini Tots I found on Pinterest, slightly modifying the recipe as well. To finish it all off, I quickly prepped some Mini Baklava using phyllo shells found in the grocery freezer.

All in all, it took a couple of hours to make, but this is one Sunday dinner that’s worth the extra effort. I would especially recommend this menu if you’re inviting friends or family over. Oompah! 

(Recipe from Food Network Magazine and adapted by TRB)

1 lb. ziti or penne
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. ground turkey
1 shallot, chopped
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup white wine
1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
Kosher salt and ground pepper
Sprinkle of dried parsley
2 tbsp. panko breadcrumbs
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups parmesan cheese

For the bechamel:
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups non-fat Greek yogurt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Kosher salt

Pastitsio fresh from the oven!

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to label directions. Meanwhile, make the filling: Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, add the ground turkey and break up with a spoon until browned, about 5 minutes. Add cinnamon and chopped shallot, and cook until shallot is soft, about 5 more minutes. Add Worcestershire sauce and wine; cook until wine starts to evaporate, about 2 more minutes. Add tomato sauce, 2 cups of water, 1 tsp. salt and a 1/4 tsp. of pepper and bring to a simmer. Stir in the parsley and cook until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Stir in 1 tbsp. breadcrumbs and remove from heat. 

2. When the pasta is done, drain and return to pot off the heat. Stir in butter, beaten eggs and 1 cup of cheese until pasta is coated.

3. Brush the bottom and sides of a 9×13 baking dish with olive oil. Spread half of the pasta in the dish, top with the meat filling and remaining pasta.

4. Prepare the bechamel: Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Whisk in flour and cook for one minute, taking care not to let the flour turn brown. Whisk in the yogurt and 3/4 cup of water, and gently simmer, whisking, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. (Do not let mixture boil). Remove from heat, whisk in eggs and 1/4 tsp. of salt. Pour bechamel evenly over pasta in baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup of cheese and 1 tbsp. of breadcrumbs. Bake until golden, 40-45 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving. 

Zucchini Tots
(Recipe from The Curious Country Cook and adapted by TRB)

1 cup zucchini, grated
1 egg
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. Paula Deen’s House Seasoning (salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a mini muffin tin and set aside. 

2. Grate the zucchini into a bowl and drain the excess water. Add egg, cheese, breadcrumbs and House Seasoning to zucchini and mix. 

3. Using a teaspoon, fill the muffin cups to the top with the zucchini mixture. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until top is browned and set. 

Mini Baklava
(Recipe from Food Network and adapted by TRB)

15 Mini phyllo shells 
4 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. lemon zest
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of salt

1. Line a baking sheet with tin foil. Arrange 15 mini phyllo shells in 3 rows. 

2. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add nuts, honey, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, cinnamon and salt to saucepan. Cook, stirring until thick, about 5 minutes. 

3. Using a teaspoon, fill the phyllo shells with the mixture. Let stand for a few minutes before serving, as mixture is hot. 

What do you serve for Sunday dinner? Did you try any of these recipes? Share your experience with us! Post a comment below. 

2 Responses to “Sunday Dinner: Greek Feast”

  1. Anonymous

    I’m going to try this. Sounds absolutely delicious. Would like to have the breakdown of calories, fats, sugars, etc. I will post with my results. Thanks!

  2. The Rescue Baker

    Hi there,

    Thanks so much! I hope you do try it. Please let us know what you think.

    As far as the nutritional information is concerned, I found this handy recipe calculator online:

    For me, it’s less about tracking calories and fat, and more about eating natural, preservative-free, lower fat, healthy, yet flavorful foods. By substituting ground turkey for ground beef and non-fat yogurt for cream, the Pastitsio recipe isn’t necessarily that much lighter (it still contains a stick of unsalted butter and 4 eggs!), but it is slightly better for you. Also, it makes such a large serving, I ended up freezing half. My mantra is: It’s okay to indulge, but doing it in moderation is key!

    I hope that is helpful!


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